IT’S been a record-breaking year for Mapperton House and Gardens.

More than 16,000 visitors headed to the attraction during the season, which attended last week.

Mapperton House, near Beaminster, was again open throughout the summer and received record numbers of visitors, featuring six rooms of the originally Elizabethan manor and a display recording the life and times of Samuel Pepys. 

The Autumn Charity Plant Fair held in September attracted about 620 people, in spite of heavy rain the day the previous day, and stallholders reported very good sales of plants. 

Car parking was assisted by Bridport Sea Cadets and £600 was donated to Weldmar Hospicecare, which provides end of life care for people living in Dorset. 

Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, said: “Despite the not infrequent downpours this summer, we’ve had an excellent season at Mapperton, with a record number of visitors to the house and gardens. 

“We are now looking forward to converting the South Stable Block into a fabulous new cafe and wedding venue which will open in May 2018.” 

Mapperton Estate was awarded a grant of almost £140,000 by the Southern Dorset Local Action Group for the project t to convert the coach house into a new wedding venue and providing improved facilities for visitors.

The scheme is expected to create seven new jobs at Mapperton House and Gardens.